Exit 5 Travel Center Site Plan Accepted By Planning Board

Aranco Realty received approval from the Planning Board for its plan to change the Sunoco gas station by exit 5 of Interstate 93, across from Poor Boys restaurant, from a gas station and 1,800-square-foot retail space to a travel center with a much larger configuration.

Jeffrey Merritt, a project manager with Keach-Nordtrom Associates, said the plan merges three properties into one large one.

“We originally were before this board in April of last year with the conceptual level of this project,” he said at the Wednesday, Feb. 12 meeting. “The plan that we have before the board tonight is essentially the same plan that we showed the board back in April and involves the merger of three properties.”

Merritt said the first property was across from the Liberty Drive traffic signal and consisted of about 1.3 acres of undeveloped land. The second property is a half-acre lot to the north of the first property and is also undeveloped. The third parcel is north of that and is the existing Sunoco station on about 7 and a half acres.

Merritt said the plan is to take the current Sunoco station and its retail space and redevelop it to create a 15,080-square-foot travel center. The new facility would continue to have gas and diesel pumps, as it has now, but included are an addition of a 3,000-square-foot convenience store, 3,080-square-foot food service area with drive through, and 9,000-square-foot retail space.

Merritt said there would be 17 spaces for tractor trailer parking, 106 spaces for cars, 10 space stacking for the drive through, and 19 spaces at the fuel pumps.

Board member Tom Freda asked if there was any connection with the application to a company called RMZ, Inc. and Merritt said yes. Freda then recused himself and stepped down from the dais, removing himself from the discussion and any vote. His neighbor runs that gas station.

Assistant Public Works Director John Trottier recommended conditional approval of the application.

Board member Maria Newman said she liked the plan.

Board member Lynn Wiles said he had an issue with the center driveway, noting a “close call” with snow piles obstructing the sight line. “I’m also concerned that the area is going to be a real bottleneck for traffic,” Wiles said.

Merritt said they had discussed the entrance at the center driveway with the state Department of Transportation, and the building was shaped and placed so as not to allow exit traffic to utilize the center driveway. Exiting traffic will be sent to the signalized exit to the far right.

Wiles asked about snow storage and Merritt said it would be addressed for safety and sight lines.

Chairman Art Rugg asked if overnight truck parking would be discouraged and Merritt said it would be. He also noted the Heritage Commission had seen the design and was happy with it.

The site plan was conditionally approved 8-0-1, with Freda not voting.

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